Autism and the brain.

Sheldon Cooper, BBC Sherlock and Abed from Community walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says “Is it gonna be a joke about media overusing the autism trope?”.
My awesome sense of humour aside, If there is a mental disorder overrepresented in the media then it’s (high-functioning) autism. The writers love themselves some genius socially awkward nerds solving unsolvable riddles and making ordinary people look adorably illogical. But how true is this stereotype? And what does autistic mean, if it’s not exactly Sheldon Cooper? Some people believe it equals the Rain Man-esque ability to count all matches in a box at one glance and others might think it means over-the top lack of social skills and having a huge bottle cap collection. Mostly, the reality is somewhere in between: autism is very broad (it’s called autistic spectrum disorder for a reason!) and no two diagnoses are the same. So let’s see what it really is and how the brain is involved.

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Wired this way: sexual orientation and gender in the brain.

Born this way? Chose this way? Despite what Westboro Baptist Church & Friends might preach there is evidence (even though pretty messy) that sexual orientation and gender identity are influenced by developmental differences in our brains. Activity, connectivity and structure of certain regions have been repeatedly shown to considerably differ between gay and straight people (insert a snarky joke about bisexual erasure) as well as cis- and transgenders.
But, as with so many things in neuroscience, it is yet not 100% clear in which way the connection goes -- did these neural differences predetermine who you like or did your experiences and behaviour gradually shaped these structures the way they are now? Still, a lot of scientists think these differences have been there there from the very beginning, influenced by hormonal or genetic factors. So let’s see, what do we know so far about how your brain (probably) tells you who to take home!

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Brain 101: Get to know your lord and master.

I'm gonna make a bold claim and say that you are your brain. Everything you think, feel and experience happens in and is possible solely because of your brain. Your consciousness arises there, your love resides there, your annoyance at the neighbour's dog barking in the night is also situated there (although many philosophers of mind would fight me on that reductionist view). So learning some basic things about our Lord Commander of the Mind Watch (sorry) doesn't seem like a bad idea to me. 

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